Amy Poehler's "Smart Girls" initiative, which seeks to support and empower young women, has launched a new web series that's equal parts science and satirical comedy. Hosted by Megan Amram, a comedian, writer on "Parks and Recreation," and author of "Science ... For Her!," the five-minute episodes feature simple science projects (such as making a potato clock or a baking soda volcano) as well as interviews with notable women in STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Math) careers.
With that setup out of the way, it's important to remember two things: 1.) Amy Poehler likes to take risks and 2.) Megan Amram's comedy is not for everyone. As many have pointed out, her character in the series is similar to the tongue-in-cheek satire of Stephen Colbert's "The Colbert Report." Instead of right-wing conservative, Amram instead plays heavily into female stereotypes. Take a look at a few minutes of the opening episode for an example.
This approach is not everyone's cup of tea. But I commend Amram and Poehler and Co. for trying something different in an effort to bring teenage girls and science together. Amram's first two guests –– Dr. Beverley McKeon, an engineer and aeronautics professor at Cal Tech and Sara Wasserman, a postdoctoral fellow at the Frye Lab at UCLA/HHMI –– offer fascinating insights into their fields of study. And if those experiments appear to fly by too quickly, the full instructions are also posted online.
Check out episode two below. Additional playful entries will follow each Monday.